LinkedIn allows you to communicate with other professionals and it enables recruiters to find your profile, opening up a range of opportunities.
But with nearly 500 million profiles on the professional social network, how do you ensure yours stands out from the crowd?
It’s never too early to write your LinkedIn profile, but make sure you get it right. The key is to make it attractive and easy for people to find and understand. The earlier you do it the better.
Some 40 million college and university students are on LinkedIn, so you’re not alone. Digital marketing strategist and LinkedIn expert Jo Saunders says the key is remembering that it’s not a resume, but rather looking ahead to your aspirations.
“It’s your vision and your personal brand. Rather than worrying about what you haven’t done, make it look forward,” she says.
“Set one up immediately and start to build your footprint, so you’re ready to launch your career when you’ve finished studying.”
Your top priority is to write a great headline. Searches are based on keywords and what you write will have an enormous bearing on how easily others can find your profile.
“Your headline is the online introduction, if that’s not right you won’t stand out,” Ms Saunders, named as a Top 200 LinkedIn practitioner, says.
“It follows you everywhere, even on Google searches. For example, ‘Edith Cowan law student aspiring to work in commercial law specialising in retail and business leasing’ is far better than ‘Student – Edith Cowan University’.”
The summary section should give details about where you see your career heading. Even if you spent the past four years as a full-time student, no doubt you’ll have had part-time jobs or undertaken voluntary work. These should all be mentioned.
The most overused profile word on LinkedIn is ‘motivated’, so think carefully about how you describe yourself.
“The summary tells your story, and outlines your career vision,” Ms Saunders says.
“Don’t be scared to list part-time jobs, however menial you think they may be. For example, McDonalds. It may be a fast food chain but it’s one of the largest franchise operations in the world and has impressive training programs.”
A great photo will really enhance your profile. Preferably a head shot, it should be clear image of you either smiling or adopting a professional pose.
LinkedIn profiles with photos get 21 times more profile views than those without.
If you’re studying a subject where you can showcase your talent then ensure you upload examples of your work in the form of videos, images or documents.
It’s a good idea to start with your lecturers, mentors and people you’ve met through your course who are currently in industry.
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to CEOs, it shows initiative. LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s about career and growth, so don’t go around connecting with all your friends like you do on Facebook or Instagram,” Ms Saunders says.
LinkedIn has a feature which lists current job openings and some of these are uniquely advertised and won’t be found on other jobs boards. You can easily apply online.
As well as individual LinkedIn profiles, companies also have LinkedIn pages and these are invaluable if you're trying to learn more about their business operations.
Be proactive on LinkedIn by commenting on other people’s posts. Don’t be shy, write your own LinkedIn content as people will want to hear your views. It will make you stand out from the rest and impress others.
“Most students don’t comment on LinkedIn because they’re unsure of what to contribute. But if you see an article, ask questions which add value. That way you are putting your name out there in front of other people and connections will make more connections,” explains Jo.
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